I love books that empower kids to realize they can do things they might’ve not thought about before. Especially if they’re based on a TRUE story like the book discussed today!
Dianna Wilson Sirkovsky has visited my blog before. Her life has always been filled with books and cats, passions learned from her Grandma Marg and her mother, Isabel. She renewed her love for picture books while reading to her children, inspiring her to write and share stories of her own later in life. She works as a senior administrator at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, where she lives with her family. You can follow her on Twitter.
JUST ONE PEBBLE: ONE BOY’S QUEST TO END HUNGER is based on the true story of Braeden Mannering, a boy who saw a homeless person and worried about him being hungry. That worry became action and changed his life and the lives of many others. He even went on to create a company, Brae’s Brown Bags. This is an incredible story of a truly remarkable young man.
Welcome back Dianna!
Me: This is such a powerful and empowering story. How did you first learn about Braeden Mannering?
Dianna: I stumbled across Braeden’s story on The Hunger Site by Greater Good where I go to click and help raise money for many wonderful causes. I knew instantly that I wanted to write about this amazing boy! I began writing and researching almost immediately. Once the story was written, I reached out to Braeden and his mom.
Me: What was it about his story that first grabbed you and drew you to write about it? What gave you the idea to tell his story as a picture book?
Dianna: As soon as I read his story, I knew I wanted to write about this amazing boy. It was so age appropriate for a picture book and just too good not to share!
Me: I agree! Did you have to do a lot of research for this story? Can you tell us a bit about that process for this story?
Dianna: I began researching almost immediately. I visited Braeden’s website and his Facebook page. Online. I found many helpful and informative articles about him and his organization, Brae’s Brown Bags – 3B for short. The story came together quite quickly. Then revisions with the help of my wonderful critique partners and a Canadian author who professionally critiques most of my work.
Me: What is one thing that surprised you in writing this story?
Dianna: Oh, so much more than just one thing! I was engrossed by Braeden’s entire story. This journey started when Braeden won his state’s Healthy Lunch Program, an initiative started by then First Lady Michelle Obama. He joined the other winners at a White House luncheon where Mrs. Obama challenged them to pay the experience forward, which he did in spades. He’s received a personal invitation to President Obama’s second inauguration; appeared on the Rachael Ray show; participated in the tree lighting at Rockefeller Center; has been interviewed by Al Roker for NBC’s Today Show; and he has done a TedX Talk about Food Insecurity – ‘A Boy, a Brown Bag and a Tidal Wave of Change’. What a kid!
Me: You got to work with Sara Casilda again! How amazing. Her illustrations are wonderful. How did that come to be? Did you ask for her again? Did you get to work with her directly?
Dianna: I was thrilled to be able to work with Sara again. Clavis asked if I had an illustrator I preferred to work with and it was really a no-brainer! Sara was involved in another project which delayed our book from the summer to fall catalogue, but the ability to collaborate again made the wait worthwhile. We communicate fairly often during a project and Sara is always open to requests if I have something particular in mind. She did such a wonderful job on this book! Her likenesses to Braeden and his mom Christy are amazing. Her work is pure magic.
Me: Were there any illustration favorites or surprises for you?
Dianna: One picture that particularly caught at my heart is Braeden and his mom standing together before he gives out his first 3B bag. There’s something so tender about it. I just love it. But I love all the others too!
Me: Hunger and homelessness are growing problems, and kids often feel too young, too small, too powerless to do anything to change such big problems. Why is this particular story something you wanted to share with young readers?
Dianna: I want readers to feel empowered that they can make change happen. It can be small – a simple kindness or something bigger. Braeden said it best… “Anyone can change the world as long as you dream big”. After all, dreams are free.
I love that! Thank you for stopping by my blog today Dianna.
Dear readers, if you haven’t yet had a chance to track down and read this book (released just last week), I highly recommend it. Here is a true story of a young man who isn’t afraid to be one drop, one pebble, one ripple in the pond of life and he is creating waves. Young readers will love knowing that there is something even they can do to help change the world around them. This is a book you won’t want to miss.